Posted on November 09 2016
Bellingham's The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2015 has bolstered its already impressive reputation as one of the finest South African white wines of recent times by joining an elite group of wines to achieve a coveted 5 star rating in the latest Platter's South African Wine Guide. This comprehensive and widely respected annual guide to local wines and producers has just unveiled its 2017 edition, with The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2015 and various other Bellingham wines performing exceptionally well.
Bellingham's The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2015 boasts an enviable track record at this year's wine awards circuit with a prestigious Top 10 accolade at the Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top 10 Challenge, double platinum and Grand Cru prize at the 2016 National Wine Challenge, and a 94-point rating by influential British wine writer and Master of Wine, Tim Atkin. Niël Groenewald, Bellingham winemaker and brand manager, says that the 2015 vintage was characterized by outstanding growing conditions for Chenin Blanc, with mild weather throughout the ripening period making for perfectly balanced grapes.
He adds that The Bernard Series range is made in a tradition of showcasing exceptional pockets of South African vineyards. The Old Vine Chenin Blanc is a prime example of this, with the grapes originating from 3 remarkable bush vine vineyards with an average age of 45 years. These low-yielding old vines produce grapes with tremendous depth of flavour and complexity. Apart from meticulous vineyard management, the grapes are also given 5 star treatment in the winery. According to Niël a cellar-within-a-cellar process is followed, which means that the wine is made hands-on in small batches, following careful sorting and selection, with minimal intervention as to respect the excellent fruit.
All the wines in The Bernard Series range made a big impression in this edition of Platter's, with the Whole Bunch Marsanne 2014, Whole Bunch Rousanne 2015, Whole Bunch Grenache Blanc Viognier, Basket Press Syrah 2014, Small Barrel SMV 2013 and Bush Vine Pinotage 2014 all attaining an outstanding 4.5 stars, and the Hand Picked Viognier and Organic Syrah being awarded 4 stars each.
Bellingham's second tier Homestead range also put in a fantastic showing, with the Pinotage 2015, Sauvignon Blanc 2016 and Chardonnay 2015 all garnering 4 star status. For these wines the emphasis is on expression and drinkability, but still retaining the signature Bellingham principles of regionality, sourcing grapes from specific sites and sculpting each wine’s varietal character to its fullest authenticity.
The achievements are a fitting tribute indeed to Bellingham's legendary co-founder Bernard Podlashuk, who was instrumental in leading the quality revolution of the modern South African wine industry. Like the visionary current winemaking team, he was never quite satisfied to be just ordinary, and became famous for his maverick mindset, sheer audacity and unabated ambition to push the boundaries of possibilities for Cape wines.